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‘Transformative year for North East Lincolnshire’

COUNCIL leader Ray Oxby has told of his pride at helping secure the pilot town deal for Greater Grimsby, as meetings loom in the new year to thrash out the detail of the innovative alternative to devolution.

‘Transformative year for North East Lincolnshire’

The status was revealed last month as the Industrial Strategy was published, building on extensive work over the past year by public and private partners, as well as high profile individuals including distinguished ‘sons’ David Ross and Norman Lamont.

“It has been, in my opinion, a transformational year,” North East Lincolnshire Council’s senior figure said, reflecting on how the local authority quickly moved on when desires for a regional powerbase fell by the wayside.

“The devolution deal for Lincolnshire was ultimately not a success, but it allowed us to get some strong contacts with government ministers and senior civil servants in Whitehall and Westminster. At the same time we cemented our ambitions through our economic strategy and draft local plan, to raise aspirations, grow business and improve skill levels as we look what opportunities the Energy Estuary is now offering."

ABP and Ørsted were brought on board, as well as others, leading to a proposition that was lapped up by the likes of Business Secretary Greg Clark and other senior figures.

“The hugely momentous and significant announcement of us being a pilot in the Industrial Strategy white paper is the first time ever that this place has been recognised in a formal legislative setting as a model,” Cllr Oxby said. “Since then we have been approached by authorities across the country who want to see how we are making it happen.”  

It is a pivotal moment in a 12 month period that has seen more than £30 million injected into the borough, while the profile is boosted too.

The Kazbah, often a focus when national media look for industrial northern abandon, is part of it, so too the surrounds of Alexandra Dock as town and port are harmonised.

Cllr Oxby was a guest at a launch by Ørsted at the Natural History Museum in London this past month and UK managing director Matthew Wright referenced Grimsby four times, as it committed to support scientific work there, while basing its East Coast operations and maintenance hub – and with it 500 jobs – here.

“Ørsted putting its business here, and the relationship we have with them is so important, while our relationship with ABP has got to the level where we are strong partners for the renaissance of the town and the port,” the retired senior officer turned councillor said.

“Through our efforts and leadership, and recognising our role as a council as more of an enabler, our ambition remains undiluted, with a real sense of passion for the place, and partnerships based on trust and integrity.

“All of these things gelled together, and came at a time when David Ross was able to recognise our profile and ambition, and decided the direction was right for him to support growth in the town.

“He is already a partner in education through his academy chain, and he recognised the authority’s leadership was very credible. He has seen a direction, talent and leadership he wants to work with.”

Not just high profile civic figures and company partners, but civil servants too on board, with strong relationships with the LEPs as well, and MPs playing a key role. Pragmatism above politics is the order of the day. This momentum will now be harnessed, with Cllr Oxby keen to ensure it is delivered, working alongside NELC chief executive Rob Walsh, who he praised for his passion and determination.

“Rob and I are actively involved, and have met with Permanent Secretary to the Department for Communities and Local Government, Melanie Dawes, and we are meeting civil servants again in January to cement the formal deal,” Cllr Oxby said. “Hopefully we will get a Government minister to come up here to finalise it. 

“In terms of reputation and profile, we are now finding success in bids we have not had before, be it Heritage Lottery or Coastal Communities. We’ve brought in £32 million this year into this area, an unprecedented amount of money, and it comes with credibility for delivering and managing in true partnership.”
Cleethorpes, Grimsby town centre, and the South Bank with the industrial development realisation are all very live programmes. 

Garth Lane, with ABP “could be developed in the short to medium term,” with proposals for the prime town centre site. “That would be great if we can get this done in the next couple of years,” he said. “Investors and developers are working with us.”

“Now we have got to make sure we keep the momentum going. We need to have a programme of activity, that is sustained. That is very important to the structure.”

​HOW the ‘unprecedented’ cash has flowed into the borough or has been secured this year:

£7.7m: South Humber Industrial Investment Programme, including £2.6m for Stallingborough Business Park from Humber Local Enterprise Partnership; £4m from Greater Lincolnshire LEP, £1.1m from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

£500,000: Heritage Action Zone funding, including NELC match

£3.7m: Humber LEP funding match with £45,000 NELC for Town Centre Deal

£570,000: Estates Regeneration Funding  to accelerate housing development on brownfield sites

£9m: energy programme, (ERDF) in partnership with Engie and Northamptonshire Co Council

£4m: Cleethorpes Townscape Heritage Project, with  £1.9m Discover Cleethorpes Townscape Heritage Project from Heritage Lottery Fund, plus £1m match funding from NELC. Potential of £1.9m private sector match

£3.8m: Coastal Communities Fund, with match £160,000 Local Transport Plan funds

£500,000: Cycle Hub in Cleethorpes

£1.5m: Environment Agency funding to replace terminal groynes

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